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Building on Ellen's Legacy — The Ellen Zimmerman Award

By Contributor
April 20th, 2021

Parson resident Ellen Zimmerman cared deeply about conservation up and down the Upper Columbia River watershed and was a tireless advocate for conservation in B.C.

While her many jobs included homesteader and organic gardener, newspaper reporter, community legal and women’s advocate, it was her staunch championing for the wild creatures and places in the Columbia Valley that she will be most remembered for.

Zimmerman passed away March 8, 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Zimmerman was a champion of the Columbia Wetlands for the past four decades, fighting for vital protections for one of North America’s longest intact wetlands and home to more than 300 species of fish, birds and other wildlife. She fought for the birds that flock to our local waters; she fought for the old-growth trees that rise like giants in the mist; she fought for protection of key places up and down the Columbia Valley, from rainforests north of Golden to lakeside lands south of Invermere. She not only battled for environmental protections, she blazed a trail of advocacy for future generations to follow.

Zimmerman’s tireless advocacy resulted in the protection of the Cummins River Valley as a BC provincial park. The upper Wood River presently remains as intact wilderness as the result of multiple negotiations with government and industry inspired by Zimmerman’s passion. She was recognized internationally for her work, receiving the prestigeous Femme de Terrre (Woman of the Earth) award in 2006.

“Ellen was a fierce fighter for the protection of the environment in the East Kootenay for decades,” remarked John Bergenske, Conservation Director at Wildsight, who worked alongside Ellen in advocating and protecting our natural world.

Citing her many environmental victories, Bergenske said they might not have happened if it were not for her persistence.

“She was a very strong-willed person who didn’t shy away from a fight.”

In memory of Ellen and her leadership in the environmental movement, we are launching the Ellen Zimmerman Award.

This will be an annual award in the form of a commemorative ceramic art piece and a $1,000 gift awarded to an individual, celebrating and supporting their outstanding contributions to environmental conservation and education in the Upper Columbia Region.

An inaugural award will be recorded and shown online at Wildsight Golden’s Earth Day celebration April 22.

More information can be found here:

If the places and projects Ellen held near and dear to her heart are close to yours as well, will you consider donating to this award fund? Details can be found at Your donation will ensure environmental conservation and education will be encouraged, supported and celebrated across this same landscape for years to come. One-time or monthly donations are both appreciated.

To learn about the Ellen Zimmerman Award, visit


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